Sunday, 28 January 2018

Politics dominates as El Sisi files nominal papers, Ali pulls out of presidential race


What We’re Tracking Today

With tomorrow’s deadline for nominations fast approaching, politics and the presidential election topped the conversation on Egypt in both the local and the foreign press over the weekend, and we can expect it to continue. Plenty of election drama took place during the three-day break, with President Abdel Fattah El Sisi officially filing paperwork to get his name on the ballot and lawyer Khaled Ali withdrawing. Election drama in the news reached a fever pitch with an alleged attack on former Central Auditing Organization head Hisham Genena. All of that and more in the Speed Round.

Reports on the economy, on the other hand, continue to be positive, with Moody’s praising the proposed Bankruptcy Act on Thursday. The ratings agency said “the law was credit positive for Egypt’s banks, as it will provide more options to [handle] viable, but troubled, companies and make loan workouts faster and more flexible,” Reuters reports.

This comes as the House of Representatives is expected to hold its final plenary debate on the act today ahead of its vote on the law, Ahram Gate reports. The bill, a key element of the Sisi administration’s economic reform program, would effectively decriminalize bankruptcy and allow companies more time and options for restructuring by introducing mechanisms to help settle commercial disputes outside the courtroom and simplify bankruptcy proceedings.

Also today in the House: The Economics Committee plans to hold what Consumer Protection Authority head Atef Yacoub hopes will be its final discussion of the new Consumer Protection Act. The law would, among other things, force retailers to print prices on products, Yacoub tells Al Mal. The Federation of Egyptian Industries plans to hold a meeting today on the law and will send its recommendations to the House, according to the newspaper.

President Abdel Fattah El Sisi arrived in Addis Ababa yesterday to attend the 30th African Union Summit, which wraps up tomorrow, Ittihadiya said in a statement. The president is expected to participate in a closed session with the union’s heads of state to discuss institutional reforms and efforts to establish an African freetrade zone. El Sisi also chaired yesterday a session on terrorism at the Peace and Security Council, of which Egypt is the president of throughout January. Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn had reportedly suggested holding a tripartite meeting with Egypt and Sudan on the sidelines of the summit to resolve the gridlock over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, as we noted last week.

Deregulating the skies over Africa: The AU Commission is set to launch its Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM) at the summit today. The project provides for full liberalization of market access between African states, free exercise of traffic rights, elimination of restrictions on ownership and full liberalization of frequencies, fares and capacities. Egypt is on board with SAATM.

It is shaping up to be a busy week both regionally and globally, too, with no sign the business and econ news agenda will slow after Davos:

Is the “anti-corruption” drive in KSA coming to an end? After an unusual interview with Reuters to prove he hadn’t been jailed or tortured, celebrity investor Alwaleed bin Talal has been set free, sparking speculation about what assets, if any, he transferred to the state to secure his release. Alwaleed has returned home and will “remain at the helm of his company,” according to multiple reports quoting unnamed Saudi government officials. The news is front page this morning in the Wall Street Journal and the Financial Times.

Who took agreements? The latest are Waleed Al-Ibrahim, co-founder of MBC with Saleh Kamel, and retail giant Fawaz Al Hokair, according to Bloomberg. There’s widespread speculation that Al-Ibrahim may have handed control of MBC to the state; prior to the corruption crackdown, he had been in sale talks with representatives of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

HSBC has turned down a leading role in Doha’s new USD bond issuance as it navigates how to do business in the GCC without angering the Arab quartet, Reuters claims, citing four sources with knowledge of the development.

The World Bank’s chief economist is leaving “effective immediately” a little more than a year after taking the job, the Financial Times reports. Paul Romer, the noted US economist, was said to be feuding with staff over everything from “diktats on grammar and brevity in reports to serious questions about methodology.”

Global investors have given emerging markets plenty of love over the last couple of weeks, with inflows to EM equity and bond funds at their highest levels in about 18 months, according to a Financial Times report citing industry data. EM equities are up 8.7% so far this year in USD terms, EM sovereign bonds are flat, and EM local currency bonds are up 4.4% in USD terms. EM currencies, meanwhile, continue to do well against the USD.

This comes as pundits are trying to make sense of what’s happening globally: Growth is reasonably synchronized across major economies, but there are worrying signs that economic growth in low-income frontier countries is no longer expected to outstrip that of middle-income EM. Hit up the New York Times for the first point, where Peter S. Goodman writes that “every major economy on earth is expanding at once, a synchronous wave of growth that is creating jobs, lifting fortunes and tempering fears of popular discontent.”

The counterpoint: The idea that low-income frontier countries may not catch up to their middle-income peers “calls into question the logic of foreign investment in poorer countries, if their typically higher volatility and poorer liquidity are not balanced by faster growth,” Steve Johnson writes for the Financial Times. The story tiers Egypt along with Nigeria, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Kenya and Ethiopia as “lower-income” countries, while the middle-income group includes Brazil, Russia, India, South Africa, Mexico and Turkey.

The Donald made (relatively subdued) mumblings about playing nice with others, telling Davos that “America First” doesn’t mean “America alone.” That will last until the next late-night / early-morning twitter binge, but CNBC and CNN have coverage if you like.

Trump is sending Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to visit “shithole countries” better known as ‘our continent,’ telling African leaders in a note that Tillerson will be visiting unspecified counties in March, the WSJ notes.

Finally: Flu season is ravaging the United States this year, “driving influenza infections to levels not seen since the swine flu pandemic of 2009,” Bloomberg reports, saying that by the time this flu season is over, “more than 50k Americans will be dead.” Allow us, friends, to remind you that flu doesn’t know nationalities: If it’s in the US, it’s on its way here (if hasn’t arrived already). Take precautions.

What We’re Tracking This Week

CI Capital holds its MENA Investor Conference on Tuesday at the Four Seasons Nile Plaza.

The Egypt Investment Forum, which is being heavily promoted by the Investment Ministry, will take place on Saturday at the Semiramis Intercontinental Hotel.

On The Horizon

A delegation of 22 British companies led by UK trade envoy Jeffrey Donaldson is visiting Egypt on 10 February, Egyptian British Chamber of Commerce member Ali Eissa tells Youm7. The delegation, which includes British MPs, seeks to form a tripartite trade agreement between the UK, Egypt and China to target exporting to African markets as Britain prepares to leave the European Union, he adds. The delegates will meet with the EBCC board, as well as private and public sector institutions.

Egypt’s Emirates NBI PMI reading for January will be announced on Monday, 5 February.

Enterprise+: Last Night’s Talk Shows

The talking heads covered an array of topics last night, including the latest developments in the presidential elections and the government’s efforts to curb illegal rice cultivation.

Hona Al Asema’s Lamees Al Hadidi was crestfallen over Khaled Ali’s withdrawal from the presidential race (which we recount in detail in Speed Round), and the fact that the elections will likely be held with one candidate. In a rare rebuke of the government, she blamed the state for wanting to silence the opposition and treating anyone who got involved in civil society or politics as traitors or members of the Ikhwan (watch, runtime 5:31).

President Abdel Fattah El Sisi’s campaign spokesperson, Mohamed Abu Shoka, disagreed with Lamees, saying the state is not responsible for the lack of candidates in the race and that “the door is open” for anyone to go through the motions. Abu Shoka also said it’s unlikely the elections will be pushed to allow more candidates to enter the race, since the vote must be held 120 days before the current presidential term ends (watch, runtime 3:45).

Kol Youm’s Amr Adib spoke on El Wafd Party’s near announcement of fielding El Sayed El Badawi’s as its candidate, saying that El Badawy might decide to resign from the party and run as an independent — and that he had initially offered to throw his hat in the ring to keep the elections from appearing to be engineered (watch, runtime: 2:56)

According to Adib’s sources, Khaled Ali had collected 19,300 endorsements before withdrawing from the race, while Sami Anan and Mohamed Anwar El Sadat had gathered 1,565 and 170, respectively. El Sisi, meanwhile, has upwards of 900,000 signatures on his paperwork (watch, runtime 3:43).

Over on Masaa DMC, Eman El Hosary spoke to Irrigation Ministry spokesperson Hossam El Emam about a government decision to reduce the amount of land for rice cultivation to 724,000 feddans from 1.076 mn feddans. According to El Emam, the move is meant to rationalize water consumption (watch, runtime 4:14).

Furthermore, rice will be pegged to global prices in 2019, according to head of the rice division at the Federation of Egyptian Industries Ragab Shehata. He added that rice farmers had been encroaching on more land than they were allowed to cultivate, and had actually sown 1.8 mn feddans of rice (watch, runtime 6:45).

Prime minister fully back on the job: Cabinet spokesperson Ashraf Sultan also told Eman that Prime Minister Sherif Ismail is officially back to his responsibilities in full swing and met with several ministers yesterday to discuss the government’s legislative agenda. On the roster are the Criminal Procedures Act and the Local Administration Act, among others (watch, runtime 3:14).

Al Hayah Al Youm’s Tamer Amin reminded his viewers that Egypt, Sudan, and Ethiopia are expected to meet sometime today to discuss the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, and prophesied that Cairo’s diplomatic efforts on the issue would finally bear fruit (watch, runtime: 3:00).

Speed Round

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President Abdel Fattah El Sisi filed on Wednesday his papers to seek a second term, Al Masry Al Youm reported. El Sisi’s campaign also announced it had appointed Mohamed Bahaa Abu Shoka as campaign spokesperson and Mahmoud Karem as campaign manager.

Activist and lawyer Khaled Ali officially withdrew from the presidential race on Thursday, Al Mal reported. Speaking at a late-day press conference, Ali cited political intimidation and bureaucratic obstacles as playing in his decision to pull out. The lawyer also said that the election timeline did not grant enough time for hopefuls to collect endorsements from 25,000 citizens or 20 MPs as required, let alone launch an effective campaign. Ali had been struggling to scrape together the endorsements, while over 500 MPs had signed forms endorsing El Sisi.

Ali’s withdrawal leaves President Abdel Fattah El Sisi as the sole contender for the top job, after former military chief of staff Sami Anan was detained last week for allegedly breaching military law by entering the race.

The deadline for challengers to file their paperwork is tomorrow. The National Elections Commission said yesterday it will not extend tomorrow’s 14:00 deadline, Al Shorouk reports.

The chairman of the once-mainstream El Wafd Party, El Sayed El Badawy, sought to announce his intention to run on Friday, but the party’s higher commission refused to field him as the party’s official candidate, Reuters Arabic reports. An “overwhelming majority” of the commission voted against supporting El Badawy’s bid since it would not present any real competition to El Sisi’s run, and his nomination would only be a symbolic gesture to ensure the elections are pluralistic, El Wafd’s media advisor, Yasser Hassan, tells the newswire.

Mortada Mansour announced yesterday his withdrawal from the race, saying at a press conference that he would release “further details” on his decision and which candidate he will support, according to a statement.

Surprise last-minute entries? Four candidates other than El Sisi are in the process of undergoing the medical check-ups required to filing their nomination papers with the National Elections Commission, a Health Ministry official said, according to Youm7. The four hopefuls are all scheduled to finish their check-ups today, according to the official.

Meanwhile, the Islamist Al Nour Party is expected to hold a press conference at noon today to announce the party’s official position on the elections, Ahram Gate reports.

State Information Service critical of international coverage: The State Information Service issued scathing criticism (pdf) of international coverage of the arrest of would-be candidate and former Armed Forces Chief of Staff Sami Anan, being particularly critical of the use of the word “detention,” which it says had been outlawed in the Egyptian constitution, and for drawing connections to the aborted campaign of Ahmed Shafik.

Regulator sends message to domestic media: The Head of the National Press Authority, meanwhile, will be out today with an interview warning domestic media to play ball in its election coverage. Karam Gabr spoke with state-owned daily Al-Ahram “about objectivity and transparency in covering Egypt’s upcoming presidential elections” and said the authority “has prepared guidelines for media outlets to follow when covering the elections” including an admonition to “not rely on anonymous sources, whose information can be difficult to verify,” Ahram Online reports.

What happened to Hisham Genena? Former Central Auditing Organization head Hisham Genena, who was a top official in former Chief of Staff Sami Anan’s election bid, was reportedly attacked on Saturday after he left his residence in the suburbs of Cairo. According to accounts by his daughter, wife and his lawyer, Genena was stopped and accosted by five men in two cars carrying knives and sticks. “His knee is broken and he is bleeding from several parts of his body … they were trying to kill him,” his wife, Wafaa Kedieh, told Reuters. Images soon began surfacing on social media that appear to back accounts of his injuries. Genena’s daughter Shorouk claims that police held Genena and seized family members’ cell phones before later releasing him, according to Al Masry Al Youm.

The Interior Ministry issued a statement to the press that implies that the Genena was caught up in a scuffle resulting from a traffic dispute involving a hit and run. The statement cites the eyewitness testimony of some said to be involved in the alleged incident.

Turning now to business news: Egypt could stop importing LNG as early as July, well ahead of its previous schedule, Oil Minister Tarek El Molla said, according to Reuters. LNG imports were previously on track to end by late 2018 or early 2019. Plans to turn Egypt into a regional gas hub had been set to the end of the year after Zohr came online last month. El Molla said the country will save USD 250 mn per month by no longer importing LNG. EGAS is expected to hold an international tender to import LNG shipments for 2Q2018 sometime this month. This would make this upcoming tender the last one prior to ending LNG shipments.

Egypt’s trade deficit fell 25% y-o-y in 2017 thanks to falling imports and rising exports, Trade and Industry Minister Tarek Kabil said on Friday. Egypt’s non-oil exports fell 10% y-o-y to USD 22.4 bn from USD 20.4 bn in 2016, while Imports declined to about USD 56.8 bn from about USD 66.3 bn, a 14% y-o-y decrease, Kabil said. “Egypt’s positive external trade indicators confirms the success of the ministry’s efforts to curb random importation and the substitution of local alternatives with imports,” Kabil added.

Banque Misr is in “advanced talks” with international lenders to secure USD 650 mn in funding, Chairman Mohamed El Etreby told Bloomberg’s Mirette Magdy. El Etreby expects the agreements to be signed in March. Also, while Banque Misr is planning on issuing international bonds, it will not do so soon, El Etreby says. He adds that Banque Misr has secured central bank authorization to set up representative offices in Italy, South Korea, and Kenya this year.

INVESTMENT WATCH- Germany’s BSH looking to establish EUR 80 mn home appliances factory: Germany’s Bosch und Siemens Hausgeräte (BSH) is studying constructing a EUR 80 mn water heater and stove manufacturing company in Egypt, Al Masry Al Youm reports. The factory would have a production capacity of 400k units per year. A delegation from BSH met last week with Industrial Development Authority head Ahmed Abdel Razek to discuss plans for the factory.

The Ministerial Committee for Settlement of Investment Disputes announced a settlement has been reached in a dispute between Qalaa Holdings subsidiary TAQA Arabia and EGAS. The dispute arose when EGAS did not fulfil contractual requirements towards TAQA and assigned natural gas distribution rights to separate companies, resulting in losses to TAQA estimated to be EGP 7 bn. The resolution reached between the parties does not entail any direct payments by the Egyptian government, but amends some contractual clauses between EGAS and TAQA. Our friend Moustafa El Bahabety, the Deputy Justice Minister for Arbitration and International Disputes, who is the head of the organization’s technical committee, informed us that the resolution signed off by the Ismail cabinet at its meeting last week.

M&A WATCH- United Pharma IV, ACDIMA merger falls apart: United Pharma IV rejected ACDIMA’s offer to acquire it for EGP 320 mn, United Pharma IV Chairman Abdullah Mahfouz tells Al Borsa. Mahfouz added that his company, which he believes is valued at EGP 600 mn, ended talks after ACDIMA held on to its offer. He said that the company has decided to reject all bids to buy it and will focus now on restarting its IV factory, which was shuttered by the government back in 2015 after an outbreak of poisoning. He did state that the company could entertain offers sometime in the future. ACDIMA’s acquisition had been a foregone conclusion, after Mahfouz himself said back in August that the company was supposed to close the transaction within the month. Olfat Ghorab, CEO of the The state-owned ACDIMA, had said as early as last November that the company was even eyeing new acquisitions.

The Finance Ministry issued a decree last Tuesday amending how the value-added tax impacts the sale of used cars, El Watan reports. The ministry ordered that the VAT will be set as a percentage of the profit on the resale value multiplied by the schedule tax set in the VAT Act on cars (which differs depending on the engine size). The decision applies only to companies selling used vehicles and will not apply to private citizens looking to sell their cars, Vice Minister of Finance Amr El Monayer said, according to Al Ahram.

Will this help or hurt the auto industry? As usual, the spin depends on which side of the industry you ask—and in either case, repeated efforts by larger industry players to structure the second-hand market have largely failed: It remains dominated by sales between private individuals and bit players in the used market. The move will help create a flourishing trade in used vehicles, said Alaa El Saba, head of Saba Automotive. He tells Al Mal that his company will be actively selling used cars as a result of the decision, and that more companies might get in on the action. The auto distributors division of the Cairo Chambers of Commerce announced that the move would be detrimental to auto traders as it would significantly raise their VAT, Al Ahram reports. They say that the move could see prices of used cars increase 30-40%.

PSA: the Tax Authority would like to remind us all that tax returns season began on 1 January and will continue until the end of April. The authority has even taken to sending people SMS messages reminding them of the deadlines, Al Masry Al Youm reports.

Cairo Poultry gets nod on 2,750 feddans for EGP 1.1 bn poultry farm: The Cairo Poultry Company has received the Agriculture Ministry’s approval for a 2,750-feddan land plot in Alamein to establish an EGP 1.1 bn poultry farm, Al Borsa reports. The company has two months to finalise the legal arrangements necessary to receive the land.

President Abdel Fattah El Sisi and Sudanese President Omar Al Bashir met yesterday in Addis Ababa, during which they held “transparent” talks on bilateral and regional issues, Ittihadiya said in a statement. El Sisi reaffirmed Egypt’s commitment to consulting with Sudan on several issues, particularly regional developments that affect both countries.

Hours earlier, the two countries’ foreign ministers agreed to “overcome any misunderstandings,” Sameh Shoukry said in a statement after meeting with Ibrahim Ghandour (runtime: 4:43). The two downplayed tensions over the past few months as a “natural” feature of “brotherly relations” and laid the blame for the discord at the feet of both countries’ media, which they said should not spread “misinformation.” The change in tone between Khartoum and Cairo comes a week after Sudanese President Omar Al Bashir instructed his ambassador to Cairo to resolve the “pending issues” with Egypt, after he had been recalled earlier this month for consultations.

Shoukry also discussed Egypt’s stance on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam with Kenyan Foreign Minister Amina Mohamed, according to a statement. The minister also discussed furthering political and economic ties with his counterparts from Zimbabwe, Zambia, Angola, Ghana, Côte d’Ivoire, Gabon, and Djibouti.

Russia and Egypt will begin talks on resuming charter flights to Sharm El Sheikh and Hurghada in April, Egyptian Ambassador Ihab Nasr told TASS. “We hope very much to resume flights, including charter flights, and we are working with Russian friends in this regard, but I cannot name any particular date,” Nasr says. Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree on resuming flights between Russia and Egypt on 4 January.

US Senator John McCain denounced a “crackdown on human rights and democracy under President Abdel Fattah El Sisi.” McCain, who chairs the Senate Armed Services Committee, said El Sisi did not fulfilling the demands of the January 25, 2011 revolution, and his rule has seen the arrest of “tens of thousands of dissidents, including 19 American citizens,” increased censorship of the media, and the passing of “a draconian [NGOs] law.” The Foreign Ministry issued a statement on Thursday denouncing McCain’s comments, describing them as “nothing more than another attempt to undermine the Egyptians’ celebrations of the January Revolution through reiterating flimsy claims previously refuted with evidence,” and said that Egypt has been working to uphold the rule of law and democratic values.

Meanwhile, UN human rights experts have urged Egypt to stop executions until it has reviewed all death sentences and to retry any convictions that are found to rest on unfair trials, Reuters reports. Egypt’s mission to the United Nations in Geneva did not immediately comment on the appeal.


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Egypt in the News

Coverage of Egypt in the international press this weekend was uniformly critical after Khaled Ali announced his withdrawal from the race for the presidency on Thursday. While Ali’s chances of actually winning were slim, his supporters hoped his bid would be a means of political mobilization in an otherwise “strangled” scene, says the Financial Times’ Heba Saleh. The arrest of former Armed Forces chief of staff Sami Anan shows that President Abdel Fattah El Sisi is “under no pressure from abroad to play by the rules,” analyst Riccardo Fabiani tells Bloomberg.

Trump should turn back on El Sisi -WaPo: The Washington Post’s editorial board says that now is the time for US President Donald Trump to turn away from his “disappointing” policy of counting El Sisi as a friend despite his “abuse of democratic norms.” Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal notes that the most credible challengers to El Sisi had emerged from the armed forces.

Although El Sisi’s reelection seems to be a foregone conclusion, reports are emerging that loyalist businessmen are “bribing” poor voters with cash and food handouts in exchange for signing endorsement forms, The Associated Press’ Samy Magdy says. With opponents out of the way, the presidential elections will likely be a “subdued affair,” Ruth Michaelson writes for The Guardian. El Sisi’s election “seems assured, but his popular support is muted,” she writes. All in all, Egyptians who were hopeful that ousting the Ikhwan in 2013 would usher in a new age of democracy “learned the hard way that they were wrong,” Sara Khorshid writes for Foreign Policy.

Meanwhile, Former US Ambassador to the UN John Bolton says Mike Pence’s trip to the Middle East shows how much the Trump administration has changed America’s Middle East policy in its first year, in a piece for The Hill. He says Washington and its allies do not need more Russian adventurism in the region and cites one example of this being the “unprecedented” increased presence of Russian military forces in the country.

In non-election coverage, CNN is taking a look at the importance of South Sinai’s Bedouin trail: Launched in 2015, the 230 km-long Sinai Trail has given South Sinai’s Bedouins a lifeline after the downturn in tourism following the 2011 revolution, Jen Rose Smith writes for CNN. The hiking trail also offers a peek into the lives of the area’s indigenous tribes and how they have been marginalized from mainstream tourist developments, Smith says. “It’s an arid landscape that’s starkly beautiful. But for all of Sinai’s charm, the trail’s most vital geography is human.”

Also worth a quick skim today:

  • Jailed Brit Laura Plummer is expected to be pardoned and released in the next few days, The Telegraph reports. She was arrested for bringing 290 tabs of a restricted substance into the country.
  • Two years after the murder of Italian student Giulio Regeni in Cairo, the search for the truth continues, Guido Rampoldi writes for Open Democracy.

Diplomacy + Foreign Trade

Italian PhD student Giulio Regeni’s research in Egypt was the reason for his murder, Italy’s chief prosecutor Giuseppe Pignatone said on Thursday, Reuters reports. Pignatone said that Regeni “had for months attracted the attention of Egypt’s state apparatus, which continued in an increasingly pressing way” until he went missing. The prosecutor’s statement comes a few weeks after Italian investigators seized the computer and cell phone of Regeni’s Cambridge University professor, Maha Abdelrahman.


Investors, government agree on waste-to-energy feed-in tariff

Energy investors have reportedly reached an agreement with the government on a feed-in tariff rate for waste-to-energy projects of between EGP 1.35 and EGP 1.65 per kWh, depending on the type of waste, Youm7 reports. The two sides agreed to peg the rate to the USD rate, and keep it in place for 20 years barring any significant changes to the exchange rate. The government is expected to announce the agreed-upon rate “within days.” Reports had emerged earlier this month that the electricity and environment ministries had agreed on setting the tariff at EGP 1.30 per kWh produced from agricultural waste and EGP 1.60 per kWh produced from solid waste.

GANOPE completes seismic mapping for 4,200 km in Red Sea

GANOPE has completed seismic mapping for 4,200 km in the Red Sea in preparations to issue blocks there for a bid round, Chairman Mahmoud El Shimy said, according to Al Masry Al Youm. The maritime border demarcation agreement with Saudi Arabia allows for tendering blocks in the Red Sea for oil and gas E&P for the first time. New seismic surveys are also underway in the Shorouk concession in the Mediterranean, Oil Minister Tarek El Molla said last week, Al Shorouk reports. The surveys are meant to uncover further reserves in the Zohr gasfield, which is in the concession.


Military Production signs MoU with Oman’s Gulf Mining Minerals for marble factory

The National Organization for Military Production signed on Friday an MoU with Oman’s Gulf Mining Minerals to study cooperating in establishing a marble and granite factory, Al Shorouk reports. The MoU will also see the two sides cooperating in extracting and treating limestone, manganese, marble, and granite.

Health + Education

Health Ministry receives 3 offers for EGP 6 bn plasma factory

The Health Ministry has received offers from three international companies to participate in establishing a EGP 6 bn blood extracts and plasma manufacturing factory, Minister Ahmed Rady said, Al Borsa reports. The ministry plans to settle on the winning company by 15 February, Rady said. The factory will take 18 months to construct.

NUCA allocates Nine land plots in new capital for schools

The New Urban Communities Authority (NUCA) has allocated nine land plots in the new administrative capital’s residential block for the development of new schools, Housing Minister Moustafa Madbouly tells Al Borsa. The projects must be completed within five years from receiving the land plots, he adds.


Air Cairo launches new flight between Naples and Sharm El Sheikh

Air Cairo is launched its inaugural weekly flight from Naples to Sharm El Sheikh on Friday, reports Al Shorouk. The flight comes as part of a broader effort for the company to expand into the Italian market, an expansion that included launching routes from Milan to Sharm El Sheikh and Marsa Alam at the end of last year.

Tourism Minister meets with Marriott to discuss increasing investments

Tourism Minister Rania El Mashat held a meeting with Marriott’s Middle East and Africa director Alex Kyriakidis and other company representatives to discuss increasing investments in Egypt, Al Shorouk reports. Marriott, which owns 18 hotels in Egypt, recently signed two contracts with the Housing Ministry to build hotels in Alamein. The new projects come as part of plans to expand into Africa, which sees over 200 hotels in the continent by 2022.

Ramses II moved to new museum

The colossal 400-m statue of Ramses II has been moved to the atrium of the new Grand Egyptian Museum on Thursday, according to Reuters.

Automotive + Transportation

New ride-hailing app for tuk-tuks and motorcycles launched in four governorates

Halan Technology company has launched a new ride-hailing app for tuk-tuks and motorcycles in Cairo, Giza, Qalyubiyah, and Minya, Al Borsa reports. Nearly 10,000 users have already downloaded the Android app Halan, which will expand into Alexandria next week and other governorates during 2018. In related news, transportation service provider En2l will begin operating its app to hail pick-up and tow trucks in February, the company announced in a statement carried by Al Mal.

El Sisi issues decree approving AFD’s EUR 100 mn loan for Alexandria tram

President Abdel Fattah El Sisi issued a presidential decree yesterday approving the EUR 100 mn loan the French Development Agency is providing for the EUR 360 mn Alexandria tram project, Al Ahram reports. Parliament had signed off on the loan in November despite objections from several MPs to taking on more loans.

BYD to supply Alexandria with 15 electric buses

The General Authority for Passenger Transport in Alexandria will buy 15 electric buses from Chinese BYD Auto for the supply of, head of the authority Khalid Aliywa said in statements carried by Al Borsa.

Banking + Finance

CBE implements new QR code-based payments system

The central bank launched a QR code-based payment system to facilitate electronic payments, CBE Sub-Governor Lobna Helal said, according to Al Borsa. The new system, which is now open to all banks which can process e-payments, comes at a much cheaper price than other PoS equipment. The move comes as part of the CBE’s financial inclusion strategy.

Raya’s Aman to launch operations in 2H2018

Raya Holding’s SME financing subsidiary Aman will launch operations in 2H2018 as soon as it receives licenses from the Financial Regulatory Authority, company CEO Hazem Moghazi tells Al Borsa.

Legislation + Policy

El Sisi signs off on law amendments to the Penal Code

President Abdel Fattah El Sisi has signed off on amendments to the Penal Code, which include harsher penalties for the kidnapping of infants or children, as well as the possibility of parole release after serving half term on the condition of good conduct, Al Shorouk reports.


Sherbini wins Tournament of Champions

Number-one ranked Nour El Sherbini beat compatriot Nour El Tayeb to claim the the 2018 J.P. Morgan Tournament of Champions as her first title of the year, according to the Professional Squash Association (PSA) website. The folks at The Citizen have taken note of Egypt’s continued rise as a squash powerhouse, noting that six of the top 10 male players are Egyptian while the number for the women stands at four.

Tunisia tops Egypt for African handball title

Tunisia beat Egypt 26-24 in the 2018 African Men’s Handball Championship on Saturday, according to Al Shorouk. Both sides qualify to the 2019 Handball World Cup co-hosted by Germany and Denmark along with third-place winner Angola.

Interior Ministry allows football fans into Port Said stadium after six-year hiatus

The Interior Ministry allowed fans of Al Masry Football Club to enter the Port Said stadium after a six-year hiatus following the 2012 Port Said massacre, club president Samir Halabia announced, according to Al Masry Al Youm.

On Your Way Out

Egypt’s fintech startups are growing in number, value, and specialization, writes Rana Freifer for Wamda. She says startups are getting more support for banks and the government and they are becoming more appealing to investors. “To sum it up, fintech in Egypt is growing in the right direction, slowly, but evolving… leveraging existing platforms and adding new products would be a good way to grow and validate models. It is also a must that startups expand their partnerships and collaborations, as working in isolation is very difficult.”

The world’s tallest man and shortest woman got together for a photo op by The Pyramids as part of a tourism promotion campaign, according to The Independent. Turkey’s Sultan Kosen stands at a towering 251 cm while India’s Jyoti Amge just reaches 62.8 cm. The staggering difference between the two Guinness World Record holders is all the more apparent from their images together out of a campaign organized by the Tourism Promotion Board where the two visit Cairo’s most famous sites.

The Market Yesterday

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Turnover: EGP 1.2 bn (7% ABOVE the 90-day average)
EGX 30 year-to-date: +1.0%

THE MARKET ON WEDNESDAY: The EGX30 ended Wednesday’s session down 0.2%. CIB, the index heaviest constituent closed up 0.9%. EGX30’s top performing constituents were Domty up 1.8%; Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank up 1.7%; and CIB up 0.9%. Wednesday’s worst performing stocks were Amer down 3.0%; Sidi Kerir Petrochemicals down 2.3%; and Pioneers Holding down 2.2%. The market turnover was EGP 1.2 bn, and local investors were the sole net sellers.

Foreigners: Net Long | EGP +74.1 mn
Regional: Net Long | EGP +18.1 mn
Domestic: Net Short | EGP -92.2 mn

Retail: 54.4% of total trades | 55.1% of buyers | 53.7% of sellers
Institutions: 45.6% of total trades | 44.9% of buyers | 46.3% of sellers

Foreign: 22.6% of total | 25.8% of buyers | 19.5% of sellers
Regional: 14.3% of total | 15.1% of buyers | 13.5% of sellers
Domestic: 63.1% of total | 59.1% of buyers | 67.0% of sellers

WTI: USD 66.14 (+0.96%)
Brent: USD 70.52 (+0.14%)

Natural Gas (Nymex, futures prices) USD 3.51 MMBtu, (+1.68%, February 2018 contract)
Gold: USD 1,357.2 / troy ounce (-0.79%)

TASI: 7,521.64 (+0.57%) (YTD: +4.09%)
ADX: 4,643.54 (+0.35%) (YTD: +5.57%)
DFM: 3,468.65 (+0.15%) (YTD: +2.93%)
KSE Weighted Index: 418.45 (-0.08%) (YTD: +4.24%)
QE: 9,459.61 (+1.08%) (YTD: +10.98%)
MSM: 5,007.77 (+0.68%) (YTD: -1.79%)
BB: 1,341.77 (+0.35%) (YTD: +0.76%)

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29-30 January (Monday-Tuesday): Seamless North Africa, The Nile Ritz-Carlton, Cairo.

30 January-01 February (Tuesday-Thursday): CI Capital’s MENA Investor Conference, Four Seasons Nile Plaza, Cairo.

3-4 February (Saturday-Sunday): Egypt Investment Forum, Semiramis Intercontinental Hotel, Cairo.

05 February (Monday): Egypt’s Emirates NBI PMI reading for January announced.

08-11 February (Thursday-Sunday): Furnex & the Home international trade fair, Cairo International Convention Center.

12-14 February 2018 (Monday-Wednesday): Egypt Petroleum Show 2018 (EGYPS), New Cairo Exhibition Center.

19-20 February 2018 (Monday-Tuesday): The Banking Tech North Africa, The Nile Ritz-Carlton, Cairo

17-21 February 2018 (Saturday-Wednesday): Women For Success – Women SME’s “World of Possibilities” Conference, Cairo/Luxor.

05-07 March (Monday-Wednesday): EFG Hermes’ One on One Conference 2018, Atlantis, The Palm, Dubai, UAE.

28-31 March 2018 (Thursday-Sunday): Cityscape Egypt, Cairo International Convention Centre, Cairo

08 April (Sunday): Easter Sunday, national holiday.

09 April (Monday): Sham El Nessim, national holiday.

24-25 April (Tuesday-Wednesday): Renaissance Capital’s 3rd Annual Egypt Investor Conference, Cape Town, South Africa.

25 April (Wednesday): Sinai Liberation Day, national holiday.

01 May (Tuesday): Labour Day, national holiday.

4-6 May 2018 (Friday-Sunday): International Conference on Network Technology (ICNT 2018), venue TBD, Cairo.

15 May (Tuesday): Expected date for the start of Ramadan begins (TBC).

15-17 June (Friday-Sunday): Eid Al Fitr (TBC), national holiday. (Look for possible Monday off given the first day falls on a Friday.)

21-25 August (Tuesday-Saturday): Eid Al Adha (TBC), national holiday

11 September (Tuesday): Islamic New Year (TBC), national holiday.

06 October (Saturday): Armed Forces Day, national holiday.

20 November (Tuesday): Prophet’s Birthday (TBC), national holiday.

22 November (Thursday): US Thanksgiving.

25 December (Tuesday): Western Christmas.

01 January 2019 (Tuesday): New Year’s Day, national holiday.

07 January 2019 (Monday): Coptic Christmas

25 January 2019 (Friday): Police Day, national holiday.

25 April 2019 (Thursday): Sinai Liberation day, national holiday.

28 April 2019 (Sunday): Easter Sunday, national holiday.

29 April 2019 (Monday): Easter Monday, national holiday.

01 May 2019 (Wednesday): Labor Day, national holiday.

06 May 2019 (Monday): First day of Ramadan (TBC)

05-06 June 2019 (Wednesday-Thursday): Eid El Fitr (TBC)

Enterprise is a daily publication of Enterprise Ventures LLC, an Egyptian limited liability company (commercial register 83594), and a subsidiary of Inktank Communications. Summaries are intended for guidance only and are provided on an as-is basis; kindly refer to the source article in its original language prior to undertaking any action. Neither Enterprise Ventures nor its staff assume any responsibility or liability for the accuracy of the information contained in this publication, whether in the form of summaries or analysis. © 2022 Enterprise Ventures LLC.

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